School focus: Intake Primary School
Nowadays children can face ever mounting pressures from things such as social media and exam stress which ultimately can have an impact on their mental health.
However, staff at Intake Primary School are recognising these as issues that may worry their students and have been working on ways to combat them by promoting emotional wellbeing.
Since September, Intake pupils have been encouraged to look at ways they can feel safe in their environment and have been taught strategies to cope when things do get stressful.
Children across every year group actively participate in daily mindfulness sessions, and can use a number of worry boxes around the school to air their concerns before talking about ways to address and overcome them.
Parents enjoy a close relationship with the school, and are invited to promote good emotional wellbeing at home and think about ways they can help their children to thrive in school.
Tia Hewitt, deputy headteacher and special needs coordinator at Intake Primary School, said youngsters can be affected by stress and they were trying to help them deal with it.
She said: “We were growing more and more aware of the stresses of things like technology on children and the pressures of doing SATs. It does affect children and it is affecting them more so as time goes on.
“Life is changing a lot and they’re able to access more than probably I was as a child.
“It is about us acknowledging and addressing that and giving the children the tools so that they’re able to cope and deal with these pressures and these anxieties in a way that doesn’t impact them long term.
“That was our aim, that we understand the world is ever changing and we need children to be able to cope with that ever-changing world.
“We talked with parents about ways they can help their children in school.”
Miss Hewitt added: “Some of the things we say to parents is one of the best things you can do is make sure they come in having had a healthy breakfast, make sure they’re going to bed at a reasonable time, think about the amount of time they spend on devices and how long they put them away before bed.”
As part of their continued work around mental health, they took part in Children’s Mental Health Week 2019 which took place from February 4 to 8.
Throughout the week children explored what it means to be healthy, and worked on ways of understanding that in order to be well, people have to look after their bodies and their minds. The aim was for each year group to recognise that bodies and minds are connected, so food, being active and sleep can contribute to how we feel.
Each day was given a different theme, starting with sleep and the importance of not staying up late, to being safer on the internet, eating well, exercise and open conversations about mental health.
The school is constantly building its relationship with parents, through as many avenues as possible such as emails, regular leaflets and the introduction of a Twitter account where staff can celebrate their children’s successes.
Parents are invited into the school for regular meetings as part of a 'working together' project, which features a family of kangaroos as mascots called the Leap family - based on the idea that pupils are taking leaps forward in their learning.
Children are given the opportunity to take the mascots home for the week if they have appeared on the school’s Twitter feed. In October, Intake was recognised by Ofsted for the inclusive environment it creates for every child, and it recently installed a sensory room to support those dealing with anxiety to give them a space to relax.
Miss Hewitt explained that every child is taught to strive for their own personal goals, adhering to the motto ‘only our best is good enough’.
She said: “I think it is a very community-based school, the children and the parents would feel that as well.
“It has a warm feeling to it and we do get a lot of people when they come to look around that say what a nice feeling it has got about it.
“I would say that is the ethos in our school, it is fully inclusive and it is about making sure all are included and also that we move with the times as well.
Miss Hewitt added: “Every member of staff is out on the school yard in the morning so they are visible and accessible for parents if they need some support for their child.
“One of the other things we really believe in as a school is about increasing knowledge and understanding of not only the staff but of the children, the governors, and the parents.
“Whether that is in terms of raising awareness about different special needs as we also regularly take part in national days – such as ADHD Day and Autism Day.
“It is just about opening these experiences up for children and getting them to realise that even in adversity it is still possible to do what you want to do, to have those dreams and to push forward, be resilient and overcome difficulties.”